Account Management can be linked to pareto principle. 80% of future business rule would come from 20% of your existing customer. So, focus on your existing clients to scale the business.
If you are small business or startup generating a few leads per day, than I recommend you to hire Account Managers and not Account Executives. Sounds weird? Let me explain why I recommended AM and not AE’s.
Before I partnered with a small business, they hired an Account Executive who was able to play the Account Executive role with ease. The AE was was happy networking, generated leads, fostering customer relationship, proactively followed up for sales closure and achieved targets. After conversion, they moved on after handing it over project team.
During the implementation phase, there was no account ownership and the PM had to ensure that all was smooth. When something went wrong there was no accountability. As a result, client had a poor customer experience.
Even after the project was successfully handed over, the customer was never followed up to understand whether they were happy with our services or not. There was no relationship built with them to understand the usage of the product delivered. So, when the time for renewals came, customer turned their back. Hence, they leaked a lot of money in renewals and most importantly, their brand took dent resulting in poor reviews which in turn led to less lead count.
When I partnered with them, I noticed this flaw in their sales strategy. So, I recommended to make the Account executive play the role of Account Manager. And, that turned the tide. Instead of being transactional, the route they took was relational. Ideally, it is not good for one person to play both roles. Hence, one more person was hired to handle Account Management while the other person continued to be a Account Executive.
This approach helped improve the customer experience as well as customer retention. It didnt stop there as they got more organic leads via referrals. Also, they were able to publish testimonials which helped build their brand again.
For a business to be successful and profitable, focus on Account Management.
So, what is account management?
Account management focuses on nurturing client relationships to retain clients’ business, grow those opportunities and build brands. Account Managers accomplish these objectives by learning what their clients’ goals are and helping their clients achieve them.
At times, I used to get into arguments which lead me nowhere. These arguments lead to conflict and cost me time and relationships. Noticing this behavior of mine, my colleague narrated the story of “The Donkey and the Tiger“.
The donkey told the tiger: ′′The grass is blue”.
The tiger replied: ′′No, the grass is green”.
The discussion became heated, and the two decided to submit the issue to the lion, King of the Jungle.
Before reaching the clearing in the forest where the lion was sitting on his throne, the donkey started braying: ′′Your Highness, is it true that grass is blue?”.
The lion replied: “True, the grass is blue”.
The donkey rushed forward and continued: ′′The tiger disagrees with me and contradicts me and annoys me please punish him”.
The king then declared: ′′The tiger will be punished with 5 years of silence”.
The donkey jumped for joy and went on his way, content and repeating: ′′The grass is blue”…
The tiger accepted his punishment, but he asked the lion: ′′Your Majesty, why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?”
The lion replied: ′′In fact, the grass is green”.
The tiger asked: ′′So why do you punish me?”
The lion replied: ′′The punishment has nothing to do with the question of whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is because you, a brave, intelligent creature, waste time arguing with a donkey, and then come and bother me with a silly question”.
From that point onwards, I try to avoid getting into conflict. And even when I get caught in one, I agree with the other person and will walk out politely.
It doesn’t mean that I have succumbed to a defeat. It is just that my/your time is more valuable than getting into unwanted arguments.
Whenever someone opens slideshows during events or online meetings, my mind goes “Oh no! Another presentation. I am going to be bored to death.”
I always believe slideshows should complement the speaker. However, the majority of the time it has become a distraction. So, I revisited a few presentation videos of Steve Jobs(I am a big fan of his presentations) to study what made his speech outstanding.
Here are a few points that can help prepare your slideshows
In your presentation, you should know what you intend to say. Your presentation should have a takeaway for your audience. So, visualize the journey and outline the presentation before trying to put together slides.
Many love story tellers. So, script your presentation to follow a screenplay with start, middle and climax. Your audience should enjoy the current slide and at the same time they should be eager to know what comes next.
Have very minimal words on your slide. When you display four bullet points, the attendees tend to read that first and wait for you to complete what have you to say.
So, make sure to display one simple title or word in your slide. The audience should know what you are conveying at that moment. The slide should help the flow of information to your attendees.
This is a big no-no. People have come to listen to what you have to say. Not, to read the slides. Save the notes for yourself and not to be displayed on the screen,. Many software have notes to be displayed only to the presenter.
Simple facts or Big graphics with minimal display is what will be preferred.
Pay attention to the design of the slides. Avoid dressing up your presentation with flashy themes and fonts. As mentioned earlier, stick to simple design.
Things to focus on design are fonts, images, alignment, colors and background.
Remember slides are part of the presentation and not the main part. The focus should be on you and the content. They have come to listen to you and gain something at the end.
The aim of your slideshows should be to support your statements not steal the center of attention.
A prospect connects with you and shows tremendous interest in your services. You had a great conversation and all sounds positive. You are excited about this deal.
After a couple of days, the prospect stops answering your call. They don’t return your voicemail. They read your WhatsApp messages but don’t reply. Your email never gets a response.
The ultra responsive prospect goes silent on you.
I have been in this situation many times. Have you been? I am sure you would have been to.
Since sales was new to me I started my investigation on why they ghosted me and what could have I done to fix this.
Let’s start with the Why?
Usually, most of the sales assume it is something they had done wrong. That is not the case all the time. There are a few factors for prospect ghosting you and I have listed them based on my experience in sales.
The instinct says they are the one with whom you are going to do the handshake. So, the estimate is sent after which there is silence.
When the estimate is way over the budget, there is no obligation for them to respond back. And, they believe it won’t be fruitful even after the negotiation. So, in their interest on time, they avoid connecting with you.
Other reasons are they have already evaluated and are ready to choose another product. They reach you so that they can show it to their management. Once they got it they are no longer interested to continue with you.
All of a sudden the project is not their immediate priority. Something came critical or business has some other plan for the current year. Hence, it got pushed
In a few cases, the prospect knows that the project may kickstart late. However, they want to do the intel so that there is no last-minute rush in making decisions. In simple terms, they have made their decision and they know their timeline.
3. Requirement mismatch
Yes, we do the discovery and qualification. It may sound all glossy and fine. However, when the discussion deep dives you should start listening to understand the bigger picture and the goal. When the requirement is not well understood, the solution provided is a mediocre one.
Sometimes, when the behavior of sales is Know it all, the chances are the prospect never shares the requirement.
The talk with your prospect would have been great. However, prospects do business with you only when they know you, they like you, and most importantly trust you.
The prospect should have the connection that you are the one for them. It is not just the price. It is about the customer service, convenience, reputation, culture and values of your organization.
It is important sales realize that a prospect’s silence doesn’t reflect the sales style. For some reason, the prospect interest in our service has faded and most of the time it is internal. However, if this happens frequently, take some time to revisit your visit closed lost accounts and figure out ways to improve your skills.
Now,you know why your prospect goes silent. Its time to take action. In my next blog, I will share the efforts I had to taken to identify the motive of the prospect and kept them talking or gave me the reason on why they didn’t pick us.
When I was new to Presales, my mentor Mr.Sridhar Iyengar shared a secret sauce for successful sales – Identify and build Customer Champions.
Power of Champions
Your champions have the ability to connect you with key stakeholders like decision-makers including the person responsible for procurement. In a few cases, they have the power to influence decisions and move the needle towards your product or service.
Building these customer champions not only helped me win sales. They helped Customer Success to retain the accounts and become their advocates.
Let’s look at how these champions helped during the sales process by sharing the following details
1. Evaluation criteria
The moment they trust you, they will start divulge details on the key features expected by the management. This had helped me to give a “Wow” demo. During POC, I was able to work build the solution as per their standards and create an impression.
2. Decision Making Process
The champions knew why the organization is looking to buy a new product or service, why it is important for them, and what they expect from the vendor to buy the product. Hence, they know the critical factors involved in the procurement process.
The champions never divulge details about the competitor’s name. Since they believe in you they share the number of competitors involved and whether we have an edge over them or not. In a few cases, they keep the competition at bay and vouch for your service.
4. Influence in decision making
This is not something the champions share. But, it is an action taken by them.
They get into the minds of the decision-makers and influence the decision on why they have to choose our service. They present why your product or service has a competitive edge and the ROI benefit.
The champions handle objections on your behalf. Help the sales by closing the account for you.
The champions do these because they strongly believe in your product or service. So, sales should be careful with their treatment and make them a winner.
Customer Champions don’t stop only with closing the sales. They want to make the product or service a success. By doing so, champions would like to demonstrate the value they bring to the organizations.
Be it implementation or onboarding, they gather and bring the right stakeholders to the table. This is done to ensure that the product goes live without many hiccups. They handle any friction during this phase.
The champions ensure that the product usage increases by the respective team and by doing so they can show the ROI as quick as possible.
6. Alerts or concerns
When there are any alerts during the implementation or concerns related to the product, they give a headsup and ensure that you have the time to fix it.
It doesnt stop here, when there are too many issues after productions or when the satisfaction level dips, they raise the red flag.
Once the implementation is complete and successful, they will be happy to refer your product or services to their network. They will be willing to give testimonials and endorse to other prospects whom you forward.
Customer Champions are your allies. They are influencers during your sales process. Post-sales they are your advocates. So, find one as early as possible and develop a great and healthy relationship with them.